Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (8): 1202-1214.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201508002

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Impact analysis of turning counties (cities) into districts to the urban economic growth in China

Xun LI1,2(), Xianxiang XU3()   

  1. 1. Urbanization Institute of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Geography Sciences and Planning School of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3. Lingnan College of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2014-08-07 Revised:2015-01-24 Online:2015-08-20 Published:2015-08-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271138


In order to accomplish economic integration of prefecture, turning counties into districts dominates policy instruments of prefecture-level governments in way of breaking the administrative economy and reducing administrative borders. However, our research casts doubt on this policy instrument. In this paper we have introduced the DID (difference in difference) method which is generally applied in policy evaluation area, to analysis the city sample of turning counties (cities) into districts between 1990 and 2007 in China. And we have found the policy of turning counties (cities) into districts only have short-term effect in promoting the cities' economic growth in about 5 years, which embodied in certain indicators - per capita GDP growth, per capita growth rate of fixed asset investment, per capita consumption growth, etc. As for the growth rate of per capita road area and per capita of the number of buses, the effect is the first decline after rally, while the effect on adjacent cities' economic growth only lasted two years. In second part, the case study of Foshan is launched to explain causes for above-mentioned short-term rather than long-term incentive. We claim that investing in the cities' infrastructure will be local governments' primary behavior after the policy of turning counties (cities) into districts, and this behavior will promote industrial transfer and stimulate the real estate market, thus contributing to the cities' economic growth. However, turning counties into districts discourages county-level development by centralizing prefecture-level governments' control rights over resources and weakening development rights of county government. So we conclude the process to the regional economic integration by administrative means only have short-term effect because of the disappearance of long-term incentives.

Key words: turning counties into districts, regional economic integration, border, growth, short-term impact, China